Mobile games thrive, even as pandemic keeps players home
Smartphone gameplay involves taps on touchscreens with just a few moments of play at a time, often while sipping coffee or waiting for transit, in contrast to the console games with immersive worlds that can span hours.
More than 40 percent of mobile gamers are women, according to research firms Newzoo and Statista. That differs from gamers using consoles or personal computers, who are more likely to be males age 12 to 35 years old, according to analysts.
"We've had loads of people forced inside during lock-downs in need of entertainment," said Futuresource mobile tech and gaming research analyst Morris Garrard.
"Gaming being one of the most interactive and engaging forms of entertainment has seen a significant boost."
According to the mobile consultancy App Annie, spending on mobile gaming is expected to see strong growth this year and top $100 billion. Popular titles include Candy Crush Saga, Honor of Kings, Pokemon Go and Gardenscapes.
- Minnows and whales -
And, paying a dollar or so to upgrade to an ad-free version of a mobile game is seen by some as a bargain.
Mobile players who spend little to nothing are referred to in the industry as "minnows," while those more willing to pay are "dolphins" of "whales" depending on how deep they reach into their wallets.
- Addictive fun? -
The World Health Organization has classified "gaming disorder" a disease characterized by "impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities" even if it is detrimental to one's life.
"Allocating a bit of time to playing games can improve your mental health in a lot of amazing ways," Lifehack digital marketer Zuhair Sharif said in a blog.
"This has led many to incorporate video games into their regular lives."
- Mobile millennials -
"In emerging regions, particularly China and India, it is absolutely huge," Garrard said.
Mobile game revenue is powered by the fact that they are easily available to the more than four billion people in the world with smartphones, according to Garrard.
A trend toward cloud streaming services will likely boost mobile gaming, as titles once limited to consoles will be able to offer more play on smartphones or tablets since action is power by datacenters.
"The concept of gaming on the go will be ever more present, supported by improvements in mobile infrastructure," Garrard said.
"It's not just the gaming platform will be benefiting, but the likes of kind of Google and Apple."
Apple and Google are behind the mobile operating systems, iOS and Android respectively, that power nearly all of the world's smartphones.
The US technology titans also run online shops for mobile apps, taking 30 percent commission on transactions in what has become a controversial toll given their dominance in the market.